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Citizens in Training
16 minutes | May 1, 2018
Conscription and the Social Contract in the Gulf
In this episode, Jon Alterman is joined by Dr. Steffen Hertog, an associate professor in comparative politics at the London School of Economics. Steffen discusses the goals and long-term prospects of the UAE’s national service program in the context of shifting relations between Gulf militaries, governments, and societies. He considers how the UAE’s experiment in conscription as a nationbuilding tool could accelerate a broader effort by Gulf leaders to redefine the contract between citizens and the state—and also raises important questions about the challenges such efforts may face.
15 minutes | Apr 24, 2018
A Nordic Model for the UAE?
In this episode, Jon Alterman takes a broader view of conscription with Elisabeth Braw, a NATO expert and nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. Elisabeth is a former journalist who has observed Nordic armies closely throughout her career. She discusses the evolving approaches towards conscription of some European nations that have maintained a military draft. She also explains key aspects of the Finnish model, which the UAE studied carefully while designing its own program. Though the UAE program differs in critical respects, Elisabeth highlights lessons the Finnish experience may hold for the UAE and others.
13 minutes | Apr 17, 2018
Building a Conscription Society
In this episode, Jon Alterman talks to Dave DesRoches, associate professor and senior military fellow with the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, National Defense University. Dave, a former Defense Department official responsible for U.S. defense policy in the Gulf and a retired U.S. Army Ranger, lays out the military case for—and against—conscription. Dave also talks about the social and economic implications of building a conscription society. He argues that history shows conscription can either be a force that drives forward national integration or one that sets it back—with much hinging on implementation.
14 minutes | Apr 3, 2018
National Service and the “Entitled Patriot”
In this episode, Jon Alterman speaks to Dr. Calvert Jones, assistant professor at the University of Maryland, College Park in the department of government and politics and the author of Bedouins Into Bourgeois: Remaking Citizens for Globalization. Calvert reflects on the UAE’s military conscription program through the prism of wider efforts to cultivate a new type of UAE citizen for a future that is less dependent on oil. She highlights how social engineering efforts can sometimes produce unexpected—or unintended—consequences. In particular, she discusses a paradox she dubbed the “entitled patriot” that she observed when studying the effects of nationalism education in the UAE.
16 minutes | Mar 27, 2018
"Little Sparta" and the Gulf’s New Nationalism
In this episode, Jon Alterman speaks to Dr. Kristin Smith Diwan, senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. Kristin situates the UAE’s conscription program in the context of a “new nationalism” in Gulf Arab countries that seeks in part to galvanize citizens to contribute more actively to the state. Kristin also discusses how more specific identities—gender, socioeconomic class, and local affiliations—may shape how Emiratis and other Gulf citizens experience these efforts to foster nationalism.
19 minutes | Mar 20, 2018
Enlisting the Emirates
In this episode, Jon Alterman speaks to Dr. F. Gregory Gause, professor of international affairs and head of the international affairs department at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. Greg assesses the durability of the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) conscription project, its potential to spread beyond the UAE, and what the program reveals about the strategic thinking of the UAE's leadership. The UAE’s choices—not least the use of a military model for social engineering—will have important implications for Emiratis and any who seek to follow the UAE’s example.
7 minutes | Mar 12, 2018
Introducing Citizens in Training: The Unlikely Story of the UAE’s National Military Service Program
In 2014, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) embarked on a bold experiment: It began drafting young men into the military. But as a CSIS Middle East Program research team discovered, the UAE’s move to press young men into military service is not merely a response to security challenges. It is a stunningly ambitious experiment to use the military to shape a new kind of citizen for the future of the UAE. What is the UAE trying to gain? What are the intended and unintended consequences likely to be? And why should we care sitting in Washington, D.C.? In this episode, Jon Alterman and Margo Balboni discuss the questions driving their exploration of the UAE draft and preview expert conversations bringing diverse insights into these themes in coming episodes.
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